I have been in business for a few years and am now at the point that I get approached for photoshoots on a regular basis. Some of them I do because I am interested in the theme and feel I would benefit from having a dummy cake in that style/design. Other's I do for free magazine advertising etc. Lately I have been getting inquiries from people I don't really know or haven't worked with in the past asking for a specific cake for their photo shoot. They don't want to pay me for the cake other than some free photos from the shoot. I have a lot of professional photos of my work so that's not something that gets me excited... If I am going to do a shoot I am not interested in recreating someone else's cake (I don't do that in my business so why would i do that for someones photo shoot) How do you tactfully turn them down? So far I have just said I am not available for the date of the photo shoot. I don't really like that excuse so I'd like to figure out something better to say.
AI would reply saying that you can certainly do dummy cakes but for a fee (if this is a line of business that interests you of course). Explain that you have lots of professional photographs already and that you don't need more.
Wow, I'm surprised they're so specific on the design of the cake instead of telling you the theme and asking you to design something which could very well be better than what they came up with. Doing a photo shoot of a cake that already exists seems to defeat the purpose, and they're not getting your expertise. Sounds like amateurs, for sure.
Anyway, it sounds like a great time to refer them to another decorator who is looking for portfolio building opportunities and professional photos. You could even state that to whomever is making the request. It's a perfectly reasonable excuse to decline.